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In this new regularly published column, Newport Vineyards will chat with the What’sUpNewp Crew about wine, vineyard life, locally-sourced food and all things Newport.
Harvest season on the island means it’s time to enjoy some of the best locally-sourced meals of the year. Rich fall flavors from popular fall menu items like lamb or duck accompanied by squash and root vegetables are a highlight of autumn dining, so are sweet, fruit-filled pies and tarts for dessert.
What wines pair best with these delicious Fall foods? We sat down with John Nunes, Jr., owner of Newport Vineyards, to get an expert’s opinion. Here are his top 5 picks for Fall.
Though we may not think of it as one, cider, made from the juice of crushed of pressed fruit, is technically a wine. And Rhody Coyote Cider is a great local-made cider to enjoy at your more casual autumn events. Rhody Coyote is made with apples hand-selected from a few local orchards, Nunes says. “We mostly select New England varietals – Empire, Northern Spy, Mutsu, and Rhode Island Greening – a special apple that originated in Rhode Island.” The apples are fermented right away in champagne yeast, and bottled within a month of being picked. The cider has a hint of sparkle, making it a slightly fizzy beverage that would go great with your favorite tailgate food.
“This is an easy-going, casual wine that’s great for football tailgates,” Nunes says, “I recommend drinking it in a 16 oz pint glass.”
For a white wine, Nunes recommends Gewurtztraminer, a grape predominantly grown in the Alsace region of France. “We have about 2 acres of Gewurtztraminer here at Newport Vineyards,” Nunes says. “It makes a slightly amber colored wine that can be finished dry or sweet. We favor the dry side, which goes great with all-spice and cinnamon flavors.”
Nunes recommends it with fall desserts likes pies and also says it “goes great with stuffing, making it a perfect Thanksgiving dinner wine.”
Another white Nunes recommends for Fall is Riesling. “When it comes to white wine, everyone talks about Chardonnay, but one of the most underrated grapes chefs love to work with is Riesling,” he says. “It really picks up characters and flavors from where it’s grown. You could sample a Riesling grown in Washington state, Germany, and Rhode Island and each one will taste unique.”
Riesling does not have to be sweet, Nunes says. Newport Vineyards offers two Rieslings, one of the two, Newport Riesling, is more semi-dry and won Best of Show our of 458 entries at the Atlantic Wine Competition.
4. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir, historically grown in Burgundy, is a red Nunes recommends for rich Fall meals, and at Newport Vineyards the grape takes on a distinctively New England character. “It maintains a berry flavor and is only mildly oaked,” he says.
Nunes says this wine pairs excellently with lamb, duck or even wild boar. “In Fall you tend to see a lot of lamb and duck dishes on menus because they pair well with cranberries and different fruits from the fall harvest,” Nunes says. “Our chef [Andy Texeira] does a wild boar stew that this pairs very well with as well.”
To pair with dessert, Nunes recommends Newport Vineyards’ White Cap Port, made from Native American grapes. “We make it in the style of a Portuguese white port – sweet but with wonderful rich fruit flavors,” he says. “People tell me this wine has a ‘brings-back-memories’ kind of aroma.”
Nunes recommends pairing this port with non-chocolate desserts like tarts and fruity pastries.
For more information on Newport Vineyards, visit www.newprotvineyards.com.